Every year the holiday lights go up, Christmas music starts blaring, holiday paraphernalia hits the shelves, and I remember why every year, the holiday season turns me into what my mom tends to refer to as "The Grinch."
I love Christmas, I swear I do (please don't leave this article in a huff already!). But Christmas isn't what it used to be. When Halloween candy can sit next to candy canes in a store... I mean, that's ridiculous. We don't celebrate Christmas for one day a year, we celebrate it for 3 months a year. I hate that. I hate hearing Christmas music in October. I hate seeing Christmas trees in the aisles before we've even purchased the Thanksgiving turkey.
Commercializing Christmas really ruins the holidays for me. Because yes, when I was little, Christmas did center around all those brightly wrapped boxes underneath the Christmas tree and stuffed into my worn out stocking, but when I think of Christmas' past, that's not what I think of.
Christmas, to me, is the smell of bacon. It's waking up at 3 am and running up to my brother's room to wait until morning, and the sign that Christmas was really here was the smell of bacon in our house - dad's awake! And when I got older, that smell would waft into my room (because that 3 am thing wasn't a real possibility by middle and high school, sleep mattered more than gifts) and I'd wake up to it. It was the one time a year we all sat around our kitchen table for breakfast: pancakes, bacon, maybe even eggs if Dad felt up to it.
Christmas is staying in your PJs all day, and watching movies, and playing games. It's breakfast together, and playing with the pets, and just having a great time. The gifts are great. The gifts are a lot of fun, actually. And giving gifts is great because part of the holiday season is showing the people you love that you love them (and gift giving is a good way to do it!). But I keep remembering this one Christmas my family got this brand new TV for the living room, and that was so great, and the picture was so awesome (it was a box TV if anyone remembers those days), and I spent all day playing in the box. Because you could watch a rocket ship on the TV, but I was flying one. You could watch race cars on TV, or be the driver. Isn't it an obvious choice?
Now it's just not the same. It's high priced electronics and crazy Black Friday shopping (and shoppers) and the exchanging of gift cards for more gift cards because we really don't even know what to buy each other anymore, do we?
So call me the Grinch. Call me Scrooge. Sing your wretched Christmas songs and watch me wince (seriously, think about the last time a really good new Christmas song came out - and I mean brand new, not a remix... see why I'm not in love with them?). I can handle it. The truth is that I do love Christmas and the meaning behind it, I just hate what our society has done to it. Singing Christmas carols by candlelight at church? That's the Christmas I love. Family breakfast at 5 am because my brother and I finally caved in and woke up our parents? To me, that's Christmas. Not all this other junk we've added on top of it.
Maybe we need a year where we do something different, you know? Play games all day, make hot chocolate and snack on Christmas cookies, watch corny movies, have family breakfast and/or dinner, throw wrapping paper across the house and watch the cat go nuts. Instead of exchanging one gift card for another, donate the money somewhere. Make a gift for someone else (as a crocheter who has made blankets for a few people in my life, trust me, the look on their faces is the best gift you'll get this holiday season). Don't let the ads and the shiny electronics take away from the holiday's core message, which is that this is the day Christ was born - this is a celebration of great love, and so we should be showing great love. Maybe this year, we should like it take a different form.
Just a thought.